The new report has highlighted the need for more multiple sclerosis specialist nurses in the UK and fears over future funding.

The analysis, launched by the MS Trust, is based on a record 97% of the 245 MS specialist nurses in the country responding to a survey. It notes that there is “a high level of variation in the availability of nurses” between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  In England, more than 40% cover three or more clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), compared to MS specialist nurses in Scotland who generally cover only one health board.

The MS Trust adds that “there is a clear shortfall of MS specialist nurses” for the more-than 100,000 people with the disease in the UK, and between 126 and 214 more posts are “needed to provide an acceptable caseload level”. This would equate to 300 MS cases per nurse and currently, the caseload sits at around 550 people each.

The report notes that nearly 90% of MS specialist nurses are solely funded by the NHS -   Only 18 posts are funded by charities or pharmaceutical companies across the UK. Also, although MS nursing has grown steadily over the past twenty years “and is well-established and highly valued by the MS community”, the study notes that “recent and ongoing changes in the NHS could potentially lead to new complexities in how services are commissioned and funded”.   

Amy Bowen, director of service development at the MS Trust, said that “we now look forward to following up this initial research and getting to the heart of the issues facing MS nursing, particularly with regards to funding and commissioning, and presenting these results later this year”.